Where Is the Best Place to Study in Canada?

What do these words mean to you: college, university or technical institute? Depending on where you live in the world, these words can mean different things.

Colleges – don’t underestimate the value studying at a college in Canada. In some countries the terms college or university are interchangeable; there isn’t much difference which one you study at. In some countries the word college is often associated with secondary schools. In Canada, the word college is seldom associated with secondary schools. Our high schools are simply called high school or public high school.

A college usually differs from a university in that it provides a hands-on or applied studies experience. It is usually more career or employment focused than the university and prepares the student for the workforce in a practical sense. Many colleges today also provide university transfer courses whereby the student can take their first two years at a college before transferring to study at a major recognized university. Many colleges and universities have signed agreements for collaborative programs and university transfer credits. In this type of arrangement, the student can study for his/her first 2 years in a smaller classroom setting where professors have time to spend on a one-to-one basis with their students. Students find that they can obtain better marks in a college and many Canadian students prefer to start their post-secondary education studying at a college before transferring to university.

Other factors that distinguish a college from a university are:

1. Generally tuition costs are less than at a university
2. Many diploma and certificate programs are offered, although some colleges have now been permitted by provincial governments, degree granting status
3. The time spent at a college is generally less than at a university. Diplomas, certificates, etc are 1 to 2 years in length with the intent to give you credentials so you can work sooner than if you go to university
4. University academic preparation courses. Students who do not have sufficient marks (GPA’s) can study at one of these colleges and upgrade to college or university program admission requirements.
5. Graduates who train for a specific job or applied field often are quickly employed in the workforce because of the practical experience obtained while studying

Technical Institutes – Canada needs trades people and technicians. Canada needs qualified plumbers, mechanical and computer technicians, etc. Our polytechnic institutes meet this need and our graduates from these institutes are usually quickly hired and work in well-paying positions. Computer technologies are hot programs in these institutions. Admission requirements are often high, the work is definitely applied and hands-on training and these certified graduates have a very high chance of being hired upon graduation. Canadian employers often prefer a graduate who has practical knowledge over theory.

Today, some of these institutes also offer degree programs but they are limited in number. If you want to learn a trade, become a qualified technician, or start working in Canada soon after graduation, then this is the place for you.

Universities – the coveted place to be for prestigious academic credentials. Several of our universities hold positions in the top 100 universities in the world. Even so, there is not a significant difference in the quality of education between our different universities. All must provide high quality education and courses in all our universities are taught by the finest of scholars.

Universities differ from colleges and technical institutions in that they offer a full range of degrees, from undergraduate to graduate degrees, the Bachelors to the Ph.D. They also offer a full spectrum of academic disciplines to students. Research also makes up a big part of the university, something you will not find at a college or technical institute. And where there is research there is funding. Graduate students are more likely to get funding at a university than elsewhere. Theory is king over practical experience although some universities now offer co-op programs with their Engineering programs. If you want to work as a teacher, nurse, psychologist, etc, you will want to go to university. Also for professional programs such as Business, Medicine and Law, you must go to a recognized university.

While looking for that ideal place to study in Canada; as an international student, do not rule out any of Canada’s fine institutions. Don’t get sidetracked by the name college as opposed to university. The college might be more suitable for you or vice versa. Or maybe the technical school is the place you ought to be.

Using, Choosing, and Using an educational consultant

Introduction

The aim of this document is to provide advice and guidance in choosing a consultant in the field of education. You may be the headteacher or principal of a school or college, an officer in a local education authority (LEA) or school district, or the director of a private company wishing to undertake work in the educational sector. This article focuses mainly on information and communication technology (ICT), but the underlying principles also apply more generally.

Using a consultant

Consultants, at least in the UK, have a poor reputation as a species, and yet they are in greater demand than ever. Why? Why would any organisation elect to use a consultant rather than hiring someone? There are several reasons for this.

Short-term work

Some work is, by its very nature, short-term. If, for example, you are having a new computer suite installed, you might want some advice from an external person who has no axe to grind – and whom you can blame when half the staff complain about the design, the equipment and so on!

Expertise

In a specialist area, such as ICT, it’s quite likely that the school doesn’t have the expertise in-house to do what it needs to do within a particular time scale.

Cost

Although consultants can be expensive, it is (or should be) a relatively short-term expense. And don’t forget that you don’t have all the on-costs, like pension contributions. These can add up to 20% of the salary costs. Also, if the consultant goes on holiday or falls ill, you don’t incur any extra expense.

Choosing a consultant

When choosing a consultant or adviser to assist your school in ICT, whether for Hands-On Support, training, strategic development or any other aspect of ICT, it’s important to get the right person or company for the job.

To help you do so, here is a list of questions you may wish to ask before hiring someone. You are unlikely to find any person or company who can answer “yes” to all of these questions, so you will need to bring your own professional judgement to bear on your decision.

1. Is the consultancy independently accredited by a quality assurance scheme, such as by NaaceMark or similar scheme? If not, is it seeking accreditation? Note that an answer of “No” in either case is not necessarily a bad thing. In my own experience, the work itself is so time-consuming that it’s quite difficult to go through the hoops required to prove that you can do what you’re doing! That’s why the next few questions are important too.

2. Is the consultant a member of a relevant organisation, such as (in the UK) Naace or the Society for Education Consultants? These types of organisation provide a certain degree of quality assurance in the sense that they won’t accept just anybody as members, although they will give no guarantees about the quality of work undertaken by their members. Also, they often provide useful information about the sector in which the consultant works, which in theory at least keeps the consultant up-to-date on current developments in the field.

3. Ask for details of similar work undertaken by the consultancy, and for details of satisfied clients – but bear in mind that a reluctance to supply such details may be due to considerations of confidentiality.

4. Ask for references, testimonials, or details of evaluations, ie evidence of quality assurance of the consultants’ work.

5. You can also ask how the consultant gets most of its work. Word of mouth is a good sign.

6. Ask for the CVs of the consultants who will be working in your organisation if you decide to sign up this consultancy.

7. Is the consultant qualified to undertake the work? This could be an academic qualification, accreditation as an inspector or training provider in one or more schemes, or qualification by experience.

8. Has the consultant been on relevant training in the last year?

9. Ensure that the consultancy agrees not to subcontract the work without prior discussion with you, the client.

10. If you are considering the consultant for staff training, ask if you can attend one of their training sessions in another school.

11. Ask for other evidence that will help you decide if the consultancy is the best for this particular work in your school, such as a client list (but note point about confidentiality above), examples of video work, published work or a website.

Using a consultant

Once you’ve decided on a particular consultant, have an agreement drawn up that ensures, for example, that you will be kept informed of progress. For example, it may not be unreasonable to ask for a summary every 2 weeks, if you are an LEA and the consultant is working in your schools.

Once you’ve hired a consultant, make sure you get the best value for money. This means some or even all of the following, depending on the particular circumstances:

Have a clear set of aims and objectives that you are both agreed upon. This may be developed in discussion with the consultant before signing on the dotted line, but there must be a clear set of expectations by the time the consultant starts work.

Make sure that the consultant has the tools needed to do the job effectively. This could mean access to the computer network, desk space, essential contact information and so on.

Ensure that you have all the contact information you need too: phone and fax numbers, a mobile phone number too, perhaps, with the facility for leaving messages, and an email address.

Put in place whatever is needed to enable the consultant to “hit the ground running”. If, for example, you spend the first morning discussing what the consultant should do, you’re throwing money down the drain: all that should have been agreed beforehand – unless, of course, there is a need for a sudden change in plan, although even in those situations there should have been a contingency plan (a “Plan B”) in place.

Don’t keep asking the consultant to do more and more in an unplanned kind of way. If more work is needed, discuss whether it could feasibly be done well in the agreed time, or whether more days need to be allocated for it.

Conclusion

With proper groundwork when choosing a consultant, and sound planning, hiring a consultant to help you with your ICT work can be an excellent means of achieving the aims of your organisation.

http://www.ictineducation.org

Future Possibilities – Education Technology

Laptop and PDA’s

Individuals in the business world have been utilizing the power of the laptop and handheld for years now. The educational community has just started to utilize these tools in their schools. Many teachers have begun to use laptops and handhelds to create lesson and assess student achievement. Students with exceptionalities are also utilizing laptops and handhelds to assist them in their studies.

The future could have every student and staff carrying a laptop or handheld throughout the day. This phenomenon is already occurring in most post secondary institutions and as the cost of these technologies go down the more likely it is that every student will soon be booting up at the beginning of each instructional day.

Online textbooks

The financial burden the cost of textbooks put on the education system is staggering. New textbooks are purchase every couple of year only to be replaced a few year later with the new cutting edge book that is not much different from the previous. Many companies are beginning to create CD-ROM and online versions of their books.

In the future we will probably find school boards paying a yearly subscription to the textbooks of their choice, which will allow their student to have unlimited access to the books via the internet or downloaded directly to their on their laptops at a fraction of the cost of providing a physical text for every student. Publisher need not fear this will not be the end of the book as we know it since we all still enjoy curling up with a good novel and love flipping through our favourite picture book.

Using the Experts

It is already possible to watch a live feed of Elephant Seals from California and have students ask questions to an onsite marine biologist. However, this could occur more effortlessly and regularly in the future.

Teachers could have access to thousands of experts around the globe and be able to utilize their expertise and knowledge when teaching specific topics. Students would be able to ask questions via video conferencing and perhaps even witness live experiments and studies happening around the world.

Virtual Reality Experiments, Activities and Field Trips

Virtual worlds such as Second Life are beginning to make it possible to create your own digital self (avatar) to travel and experience the world of cyberspace. Currently people are creating stores, team, games, homes and companies in these virtual worlds. Even corporations and educational institutions are experimenting within cyberspace.

In the future a teacher could take their class on a tour of the Amazon rain forest or the Great Barrier Reef within cyberspace and allow each individual student to explore using their own avatar. This may seem a little far out, but believe it or not it is already happening.

Instant assessment and feedback

With the use of laptops and handhelds teachers are already beginning to be able to record their instant assessments of students instantly. Not only are the teachers able to document student’s achievements quickly but with the help of virtual educational communities they will be able to give instant feedback to the student, parents, other teachers and administration.

Worldwide collaboration

World wide collaboration has already begun as students communicate with others around the world via email, video conferencing and instant messaging. Many collaborative projects are also occurring in the shape of online collaborative websites know as wikis. These sites allow anyone that has permission to add and edit the sites information. The most popular wiki, Wikipedia, is use by many internet surfers today.

The future possibilities of worldwide collaboration are mind boggling. Students studying Africa could be teleconferencing with a classroom of children in Botswana. A student writing an essay on the holocaust could have an instant message conversation with a holocaust survivor. An Art lesson on Picasso could begin with a question and answer period with his granddaughter. This is not very far fetched as many universities have been using these types of technologies to enhance their lectures and programs.

Streamlined Administration

Departments of education and school board are beginning to realize the power of streamlining educational data. Marks, reading levels, medical history, achievements, learning disabilities, attendance and many other important data about students is beginning to be compiled into streamlined databases that will help educators understand their students better and customize their lessons to improve achievement.

The Future is Now

Even though many of these technologies are available today, and are beginning to be used is some classrooms around the world, it gives us an idea of where we are heading. What educators and administrator need to remember is that we need to make sure that we keep the art and the human aspect in education and not let technology and ourselves turn it into an exact science that suffocates creativity and unique teaching styles. The possibilities endless we only need the creativity and willingness to embrace these new tools.

How to Get the Best Educational Consultant for Your Child

All parents want to provide the best education for their children. Parents who want to home school their child require support from an educational associate. An educational associate helps them create a balanced curriculum and assessment program- a complete educational plan for their child.

So, how do you find the most suitable educational planner? This process requires some due diligence in which the parents closely analyze certain characteristics. Here are some characteristics that you must look for in a professional educational associate:

1. Should Have Prior Experience working with Individual Students
It is essential that the educational associate you choose has some prior experience working with individuals. The experience helps them to deal with your child in a better way. They must understand that each child has his or her key strengths and weaknesses. This can help them develop a special customized educational plan for your child according to his or her learning pace and ability.

2.Should Have Experience in a Specific Area
In case your child takes special education services, you must choose a consultant who has thorough knowledge of all related laws for such services. In addition, you may ask specifications about the services to gauge the consultant’s understanding of the specialty. This is important in order to provide top quality education for your child.

3. Should Have Adequate Knowledge about Academic Assessments
The educational consultant should have in depth knowledge about how to prepare and conduct student academic assessments. You want to ensure that your consultant is well aware of the criteria, pertaining to the learning capacity and pace of your child. You may ask them to elucidate the entire assessment process for your own satisfaction.

4. Should have some Certification in Educational Psychology
Your child may have special needs, so you need to make sure your educational assistant has adequate knowledge in that area. Educational consultants help deal with children who have special needs such as behavioral problems. The accreditation ensures that the consultant has prior experience in that specialty.

5. Should have a good chemistry with the Family
An educational assistant should be able to make the child and his or her family comfortable. This is important as it makes it easier for the family to share relevant information about their child. This information can be necessary to create a customized curriculum and assessment plan. Therefore, this can enable parents and consultants to work together to maximize learning potential of the child.

The Current State of 21st Century Education Technology 2011-2012 – Paving a Road to Success

Remember filmstrips, movie reels, overhead projectors and transparencies? These are the “tech tools” that I remember from my school days. Not an interactive anything anywhere. It was simple. Teachers and professors had to decide between blackboards or overheads, black, blue or maybe green ink and that was about it.

We’ve come a long way from those days, and in many cases new technologies have quickly replaced the old. There is however a wide variation on how advanced school districts are in terms of their education technology implementations. One thing is clear; no matter how limited resources are, all school districts have formed a set of goals around education technology. If we expect to reach any of these goals, we have to understand the underlying factors that can affect the character and complexity of a problem. These factors will in turn affect how we approach a particular problem and the solutions that are applied to reach our goals.

From a 30,000 foot perspective, there are commonly three key components to an education technology solution; Hardware, Software and Training (the often forgotten, but many times most important component).

In today’s education tech world, you will not get very far without the three vital components mentioned above. These are however, merely the tools that we will use in reaching our educational goals. If you were to place all of the best hardware, software and training materials in a room, they would not magically yield higher test scores, achievement and graduation rates all by themselves.

You might think that what I’ll be saying next will have to do with people and how they can be the difference makers. This of course is true, but the actual focus should be on what these all important people are doing (and unfortunately in many cases not doing) in order to achieve our collective educational goals.

Many of us have lost sight on the “education” in education technology. It’s right there in front of our eyes and we still manage forget that this is about properly educating students and enabling them to reach their fullest potential.

The following list contains some of the most common pitfalls that we see on a day-to-day basis as education technology integrators. These are the processes and activities that have proven to be inefficient, ineffective or counterproductive to education technology goals.

1. Having no goals to begin with – This situation is all too common. A school district is hard-set on implementing and/or upgrading their education technology resources, but nothing is tied back to curriculum goals. The purchase and installation of projectors, interactive whiteboards, response systems, classroom sound systems etc is not the implementation of a solution, it’s simply a purchase. Avoid asking yourself “now what?” once the smoke has cleared. Achieve this by creating a real implementation plan that is tied to long term educational goals and state standards. All of the best education technology hardware manufacturers have researched education requirements in detail and have designed their solutions accordingly in order to help schools reach these goals through the use of their products. Ask your technology provider questions related to your educational goals and only engage with those who understand your goals and can tell you how their products will help you reach them.

2. Cookie cutter approach – Let’s outfit every classroom and every teacher with the same exact technology tools. And let’s not stop there, let’s do it all at once so everyone is happy and nobody feels left out. Makes sense – right? Well not exactly. Administrators and Tech Directors don’t want to hear grumblings about inequities or create an environment of haves and have not’s even for a short period of time. This would be disaster – or would it?

One of the best examples I can think of is interactive whiteboards or IWB’s. These boards are incredible tools and can greatly enhance a learning environment when implemented properly, but the addition of this technology tool is not always a “no brainer” in all learning environments. Companies like SMART Technologies and Promethean may disagree, but in the end, if the educational goals of their customers are being met, it will be a win-win situation for all involved – especially the kids.

This is a trend that is difficult to break. It is fairly easy to understand how this has come about since politics can many times trump logic.

Learning activities can vary greatly from room to room and from subject to subject. The learning goals for math will likely vary greatly from the learning goals in science class versus foreign language classes. Science room environments may vary even further based on whether you are dealing with Physics, Chemistry or Biology.

The variances can run even deeper based on other district based requirements, room arrangement or teaching style of an individual teacher.

Taking a step back to do some real analysis and planning may help you and your schools get on a more accurate track in terms of matching technology tools to actual academic goals. To say that “we’ll figure that out later” adds to the risk that you will leave a critical requirement unaddressed.

3. Making all decisions from the Top Down – Not that you would do this, but too many Tech Directors or IT Managers make district wide decisions without gathering any input from the end users of technology. In this case it is of course teachers that would help drive accurate requirements from the bottom up that would complement the decisions being made from above. This will no doubt take more time and effort, but in the end it will likely uncover more detail and accuracy to your requirements that will help minimize risk and decrease the chances that you’ll miss a requirement or waste time and money spent re-working your initial solution with an unplanned “Phase 2” of your implementation.

4. No Training or Professional Development (PD) Plan – You might be lucky enough to have a real go-getter on your staff that takes the ball and runs with it, creating your training program in the process. These self starters do exist, but you can’t count on training and PD taking care of itself. Full adoption and use of new technology tools requires planning AND management of the plan. If done correctly, your educational goals are met and everyone comes out looking and feeling like a champion.

5. No metrics – How do you show that your plan has been successful? Part of proper planning is establishing a pre-determined method of measuring success via a set of well chosen metrics. Not everyone loves numbers by nature, but I’m betting that everyone will love them when they definitively show that planning and implementation has led to success.

6. Buying solely on price – Hopefully you have not grown completely cynical when it comes to value. If you spend the time talking to your prospective sales people and service providers, you will see a wide range of offerings presented to you. If you want to do what’s best for your schools, you will spend some time calculating the true cost of a solution where the physical hardware is only one component. If you make your decision solely on the price of hardware, you might be doing a great disservice to yourself, your schools, your project team and your students. Some of the most important value differentiators will have to do with service, support, training and professional development. A quality solution provider will not only sell you the hardware, they will pro-actively support it. They will work with you consultatively and open an ongoing dialogue with you and your staff to assist in reaching your goals. Many providers have dedicated Education Consultants on staff that are familiar with state and federal education goals. This further enables you and your team to map education goals to the use of education technology tools in the classroom.

7. Thinking your planned solution is “good enough” – This might apply when buying a car or home appliance when added cost is usually associated with “bells and whistles”, but a classroom is not about getting to point A to point B or how white your shirts can be. True adoption of education technology in a classroom can be a tricky goal to meet and adoption must come with real results like increased test scores and graduation rates. If you are heavily constrained by budget, I recommend creating the best solution possible and starting with one room. If you don’t have the funds to complete an entire room, do it in well thought out phases with guidance from your education technology integrator (remember that thing about added value? – A perfect example). If you continue this process over time, you will end up with quality learning environments in every room vs. a watered down “solution” in each room that yields no actual results.

8. Thinking you are “done” – This relates directly to #7 above. It’s important to have a mindset of constant improvement. New and improved technology is constantly being developed. This can offer great opportunity, but it can also create confusion. In the ‘one room at a time’ scenario above, it would be of added benefit to re-evaluate your plan as time progresses. This will give you the ability to fine tune your solution over time. For this reason, it will be important to pay attention to feedback from end-users of technology enabled classrooms. There may be a new and improved technology available or you may have realized that you “over-bought” in a particular area and can then adjust your plan accordingly. Ideally, there will be no changes at all and simply a confirmation that your plans and system designs are sound. If you reach the end of an implementation and everything has gone according to plan, you are still far from being done. As with all technology, there are the elements of hardware maintenance, support and an ongoing training/professional development plan. If you have specific plans in place in all of these areas and actively manage to your goals, your chances for success will be greatly improved.